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"Springdale's not THAT bad"

My friend Patrice bought a truck a few months ago. It came with a bumper sticker already in place that read, "Springdale's not that bad." Until yesterday, I'd never been to Springdale Arkansas. Now that I have, I take issue with that bumper sticker.

Springdale sucks.

What sucks about it? Nothing that doesn't suck about innumerable formerly small towns that have grown together into what William Gibson glimpsed in his crystal ball and labeled "the Sprawl."

I live in a town of 4,500 people and five stop lights. Springdale has ten times as many residents and seemingly a thousand times as many traffic lights. I spent as much time inching thru Springdale's commercial thoroughfares as I did covering the 60 miles that separate Berryville and Springdale. Start and stop traffic aggravates me. Start in stop traffic in a stick shift drives me insane.

My mother and I drove to Springdale to buy a centrifugal pump from a farm supply store there. We passed through the soulless commercial heart of that overgrown city twice. Our second pass through came at rush hour.

Once we cleared Springdale and escaped into the Arkansas country-side on highway 412, my driver's side rear tire went flat. My spare, we soon discovered, had also gone flat and would serve us no better than newly ruined tire. I called triple A and let them know that I'd need to be towed to someplace where I could buy a tire or get mine repaired. Gads, given that course of action I wouldn't arrive home until late in the evening. Even so, I enjoyed a state of mind sitting broken down on the side of the highway that seemed like bliss compared to my experience of creeping through Springdale's clogged commuter corridors.

While we sat waiting for the tow truck, a pick-up truck pulled up behind me and stopped. I got out and explained the situation to the driver, expecting that he would be on his way when he learned that we were waiting on triple A and that everything, while not ideal, was pretty much under control. This man, who looked to be about my age and who had his wife and infant child with him (on its mother's lap and not strapped into a government-approved infant car seat -- officially making them "bad parents"). He told me that he had a spare tire I could have. I thanked him and offered to buy the tire from him. He said that I should just bring it to his house once I got a new tire put on my truck. I told him that I lived in Berryville, and he said I could just have it. I tried to get him to take some money for the tire, but he wouldn't have it. He gave me the tire, asked if I had the tools to change it, and went on his way.

I started to change the tire, but then thought better of trying to do it on the side of a busy highway on a fairly steep grade. Fortunately, the tow truck driver showed up early and made the change for me. I signed paperwork saying that he had towed me to the Springdale Wal*Mart. That was a lie, but that way he would get paid for his efforts. Then I was back on track. I got home before dark.

Springdale sucks, but there are good people in rural Arkansas who do what they can to help those in need.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 15th, 2004 04:14 pm (UTC)
Nice story. I think I got the flavor.

May. 16th, 2004 07:25 am (UTC)
Nice story.
Thanks, man. I hope you're well.
May. 15th, 2004 05:59 pm (UTC)
Where are you at in AR? I'm moving home to north LA soon, and just wondering how far apart we will be. Would be nice to meet your clan in person someday.

May. 16th, 2004 07:24 am (UTC)
Where are you at in AR?
At present, we live in Berryville, Northwest Arkansas. (zip 72616) The land where I'm building our farm is north of here, just a stone's throw from the Missouri border.

Lara is a food fanatic, and we'd love to take a trip down to New Orleans some time to sample and savor some Cagun and Creole cuisine.

Where 'bouts will you be in Lousiana?
May. 16th, 2004 07:59 am (UTC)
Re: Where are you at in AR?
Well, I'll probably be living in North LA for the time being; my home town is Natchitoches, which is about 70 miles south of Shreveport. It was the town in the movie "Steel Magnolias", a small college town.

My dad and many of my friends live in Central and South LA though, and I'm always game for a road trip. I know some good places to "tourist" and eat both on the Northshore and NOLA, since I lived and worked down there about twelve years.
May. 16th, 2004 12:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Where are you at in AR?
According to Mapquest.com 452.72 miles and X8 hours and 23 minutes'' drive separate Natchitoches from Berryville.

My dad and many of my friends live in Central and South LA though, and I'm always game for a road trip. I know some good places to "tourist" and eat both on the Northshore and NOLA, since I lived and worked down there about twelve years.

Sounds, great. We're about to be blessed with a new arrival, so any hypothetical road trips to your stomping grounds are probably a couple of years in the future.
May. 16th, 2004 01:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Where are you at in AR?
Eight hours isn't too bad a distance in the South, the drivers are nicer and the roads less crowded. Maybe we can journey up before then, after you get settled with the new baby and get your house completed; your odyssey has been fascinating as you have been putting it together.

Where I'll be living is not as rural, but who knows, there is still good land available in Louisiana, so building a place like that may be accessible to us one day.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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